You hear a lot of things about how to change habits — it’s going to take you 21 days! You are going to have to make small changes before you can make big changes! Reward yourself! Deny yourself! Grit your teeth! Just do it!
You try all these things, but you’re still trying to establish a meaningful gym routine. You’re still smoking, or eating in front of the TV, or sleeping later than you want to, or snapping at your spouse, or biting your nails, or [fill in your own frustrating/shameful/recalcitrant habit here].
We wanted to figure out how we can actually change behaviour, and which of the methods promulgated by productivity experts and psychologists and well-meaning coworkers actually work.
To that end, we talked to Chris Bailey, the author of A Year of Productivity and Hyperfocus about the five steps to kicking a habit. James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, helped us understand how our friends may be sabotaging our efforts to change. And we finally got to the bottom of the ol’ “21 days to make/break a habit” idea with Ben Gardner, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at King’s College in London.